Friday, January 30, 2009

Embrace change, be a heretic!

"Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us" is an easy read from Seth Godin that presents the case for why You should be leading. Everybody can inspire a tribe towards collective action, regardless of where they sit in an organisation, and this book challenges you to step up, lead and challenge the status quo.

There are some great snippets of information throughout, and I agree with most of what he is suggesting re Leadership, although there is also a hate message re Management that I think is a bit too strong. It is a good book for motivation and whilst not prescriptive in how to lead provides some good pearls of wisdom for leading in the digital age.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

BlueAnt Supertooth 3 & Selecting multiple contacts on Windows Mobile 6 - Arghhhh!

I purchased a BlueAnt Supertooth 3 bluetooth handsfree kit yesterday and spent several hours trying to find an easy way to get the Contacts list from my Okta Touch (aka HTC Touch) which runs Windows Mobile 6 Professional and failed.

The BlueAnt Supertooth 3 is a nice device and pairing it with the phone was super easy (I was up and running in about a minute!), but getting the contacts across was a challenge with Windows Mobile 6 since there is no option to select multiple contacts to Beam (send via Bluetooth) across. The benefit of having the contacts on the device is that when there is an incoming call, the callers name will be announced.



I tried a variety of methods, including trying a piece of software that claimed to enable selection of multiple listings. Well, to be fair it did allow selection of multiple listings, but trying to do anything with them as a group failed.

I then tried sending the contacts directly from my PC via Bluetooth but for whatever reason had no joy that way either.

In the end I resorted to copying the contacts across one-by-one, and even though this was annoying there weren't all that many contacts that I needed across and it probably took me less than 30 mins.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Reciprocal Status Updates between Facebook and Twitter




John Battelle raised a discussion on his blog on the connection between Twitter and Facebook for status updates, and that Twitter is a Facebook Application but Facebook is not a Twitter application (but should be). I totally agree.

I update my Facebook status with my Twitter updates and have found that it has generated some good discussions on Facebook. This is however a one way update and conversations do not span across both systems which is not ideal.

I predominantly have a different set of people on Facebook than Twitter, so find that sharing the status works well for invigorating discussion. It would however be nice to be having one conversation, and not conversations independently on each platform.

The thread based approach of comments on Facebook aids in providing more structure that Twitter could benefit from, and for conversations to nicely span across both platforms, I think this needs to be addressed. Between this and Facebook Connect, I think there is a solution if the various parties want it to happen.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

If you call a meeting you should be responsible for the Meeting Minutes

I am of the opinion that whoever calls a meeting should be responsible for ensuring that Meeting Minutes are circulated to all attendees.

It is a good habit to get into, and can aid in reducing issues being relitigated and having a record of when decisions were made. It does not need to be an onerous task and only the key points need to be captured.

Meeting minutes should be circulated within 24 hours of a meeting occurring, whilst the information is still fresh in people's minds; I often strive to get them out within an hour or two of meeting completion.

I use a standard (yet simple) template for my meeting minutes which aids in me being able to quickly type them up. I tend to in fact usually type up the vast majority of the meeting minutes during the meeting and then tidy it up and distribute afterwards.

If it is a regular meeting I usually have the first agenda item being agreement of the previous minutes, and sometimes will include the full list of open issues, risks and decisions, although have found that these tend to be better managed when stored externally.

My Simple Template
Meeting Minutes Template

Sunday, January 11, 2009

How Social Media applications helped me this vacation

The end of my Summer vacation has come to an end, but it is interesting to think back on how this holiday was different from others, primarily due to the use of Social Media.

Social Media applications are based around the concept of user-generated content and include the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Photo sharing and Review sites, all of which I utilised this holiday period.

We spent the holiday period in the middle of the North Island of New Zealand in a few different locations (the Waikato, Whitianga, Napier & Taupo). At these locations we often did not know what restaurants and cafes were good, so other than just using the Internet for what to do in an area, we used http://dineout.co.nz (a restaurant/cafe review site with user-generated content) extensively to validate or find what restaurants and cafes we wanted to try. I also submitted my own reviews for a large number of the places we visited to dineout (see here for my reviews).

Jane & I also wrote a number of blog entries over on our Food, Wine & Family blog at http://sinnjoy.blogspot.com reviewing wine, food and whatever else we were up to which did include sorbet and icecream making (in reverse order):
We also uploaded a number of photos to flickr (and Jane's) with mine also being linked through to facebook. This combined with me tweeting where we were, what we were doing, that a new blog post was up or that I had uploaded photos, generated a number of comments from friends/followers and suggestions of where to go for dinner (Thanks again to Rachel and Dave).

Uploading photos to Flickr and Facebook we found to be a great way to share our daily experiences and by tagging people in photos on Facebook an easy way to share pictures with people we caught up with along the way.

A well-enjoyed "connected" holiday...

Monday, January 5, 2009

Why & How I share what I'm doing / finding

I am a big advocate for sharing information, be it personal or more business-oriented information. I share information from experiences at restaurants, what I thought of books I have read, where I am, links to things I think are interesting, productivity tips, experiences with programming languages and the list goes on. There is obviously also information that I do not share widely (if at all) due to confidentiality reasons, or if I do share it I only share it to a closed community.

Why?

I share information for a number of reasons, including:
  1. Sharing enables others to learn from my experiences.
  2. I can learn from others, and by Sharing this lets others know what I am up to or what information I am finding that I think is interesting. I may not even know initially that they have knowledge or interests in a particular area.
  3. Communities of Interest and Friendships evolve by finding people with similar interests. If you don’t convey to others what your interests are, you are closing out a potentially large community of people.
  4. Sharing in a written form (in particular with blog entries) enables me to write down what is otherwise a bunch of ideas and thoughts in my mind that could do with a little more structure and bit more focussed thought. These can then be good for me to refer back to or to direct others to.
  5. The Conversations that can arrive through sharing information are often great at challenging me to look at things from different angles and further my thinking and knowledge.
  6. Being able to catch-up with people in person can be easier if you know you will be (or are) in the same place at the same time.

How?

There are a large number of ways I share information, but in terms of those I use most days:
  1. Coffee & Lunch with work colleagues – you never do know what conversations will emerge on a daily basis, what debates will occur and that’s half the enjoyment of it.
  2. Twitter – for a description of Twitter see ‘So what is this Twitter you keep going on about?’.
  3. Delicious – this is a Social Bookmarking tool whereby you can save your bookmarks for everybody to see and target them for certain people; I would share over 99% of what I bookmark.
  4. Google Reader – this is an RSS reader (which essentially means that new stuff on sites I am interested in from all over the Internet comes to me as opposed to me having to go to each individual site to see what has changed) which allows me to share articles of interest with those who are following what I share.
  5. Yammer – for a description of Yammer see ‘Yammer & Laconi.ca: Enterprise Status Updates / Microblogging’.
  6. Facebook – I respond to Comments others have made on my Wall or to other Status updates, but do not typically update the Status Message or Share any information via Facebook directly; instead these are aggregated from various other sources of information I use, such as Twitter (for the status update), Flickr, Google Reader, Delicious, YouTube, Last.fm, Friendfeed, Slideshare etc. and they just magically arrive at Facebook.
  7. Instant Messenger / Email / Sharepoint / Phone / Face-to-face – standard tools for communication at work.

On a bit more of an ad-hoc basis, some of the other ways I share information:
  1. Blogging – For Food & Wine, where Jane & I have travelled to, and in general more Personal / Family topics I write blog entries at http://sinnjoy.blogspot.com . For more Technical and Business related material I write blog entries at http://gianouts.blogspot.com .
  2. LinkedIn – I try and keep my Resume up to date on LinkedIn to enable people to know what roles and activities I have been involved in. I have also recently also added a Book Review onto my Amazon profile.
  3. Tweetups – These are a gathering of people who are on Twitter to meet up in real life, have a coffee or beer (depending on the location) and chat about whatever. I have attended a couple of them so far. If you are in Auckland on Twitter there is a Facebook group you can join up to find out about or schedule the next catchup called the Auckland Twitter Meetup.
  4. Barcamps / Unconferences / Foo Camps – Unconferences are conferences where the attendees set the agenda at the start of the conference. I have attended a couple of Unconferences now (Barcamp Auckland 2 and TelecomONE Innovation) and these are great opportunities to share and learn. See ‘Barcamp Auckland 2 Synopsis’ for more information about the first one I attended. I will also be attending the New Zealand Foo Camp (aka Baa Camp) this year and will probably make it to the Auckland Barcamp and TelecomONE Innovation unconference (once some dates are set).
  5. Dopplr – I occasionally update my travel information so that I can see if my travel plans overlap with others I know. Since I don’t have many others I know using Dopplr or any other similar tools, this has limited my usage of this.
  6. Amazon – Very occasionally I will write a review for a book I have read.
  7. Plaxo – in the same way that Facebook is updated, Plaxo purely operates as a lifestream aggegrator for me.
  8. Blog Comments – I will sometimes respond to other people’s blog posts with my views which may be simply agreeing with what they have said. Most people thrive on positive encouragement and constructive feedback, and this is a way of encouraging them to keep posting.

Friday, January 2, 2009

"Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" by Malcolm Gladwell Book Review

Based around the concept of thin-slicing, this book promotes the idea that your initial thoughts / gut feeling are often the right way to proceed (but not always). There are many case studies to hammer in the point and look at it from different perspectives. I feel the concept was a bit oversold, confused, and not pulled together nicely at the end.

In terms of the fundamental concept that we can learn to make better and faster decisions when we filter out excess data, I agree. This particularly holds if you are experienced in the field (i.e. with experience comes intuition).

As for the "Compelling", "Astonishing" and "Brilliant" words being used to describe this book, I think that maybe "Thought Provoking with Interesting Stories" might be a better way to describe it.